Day 008: Harty to Oare
Distance: 23.64 miles
Ascent: 473 feet
Weather: Overcast, Misty but Dry
Accommodation: Camp in Three Mariners Pub Garden, Oare
I knew today there was no real lunch stop options (shops or cafes), and as my rest day had been in the middle of nowhere I had no chance to stock up on supplies. I therefore ordered a large breakfast in The Ferry House Inn, which was lovely, in order to try and get me through the whole day with only 2 cereal bars remaining.
The beginning part of the day, if I had followed official public rights of ways, would have taken me miles in land. During planning I had noticed there was a sea wall, that wasn’t an official public right of way but looked like it should work and follow the coast directly. On my rest day I had been told I should be able to walk along it. So I set of and took the sea wall route, which turned out to be fine. I couldn’t follow sea wall the whole was as there was construction (not sure what) at Bells Creek, so had to do a short diversion inland to Great Bells Farm before returning to the sea wall.
The route then took me across Elmley National Nature Reserve, which proclaims it is the only national nature reserve owned and managed by a farming family. Whether true or not, they have created and managed a beautiful wildfowl area. This stretch was really nice and I must have looked like a proper twitcher as a person approached asking to share what birds we had seen.
I then began to close the loop on Sheppey, and was fast approaching the Kingsferry Bridge to cross back over. But just shy of the bridge it became clear I could not cross onto the pedestrian side of the bridge. Strangely at this exact point I bumped into 2 policeman practising with their new drone toy, they told me it was a 2 to 3km inland diversion to get to the path that was only 10m away. But as it was low tide I slipped down onto the foreshore and was able to get under the bridge before joining the path on the other side.
Once across the bridge, I rejoined the Saxon Shore Way, and the stretch down to Sittingbourne was fairly boring passing many industrial buildings, though the path itself was clear and nice enough.
After Sittingbourne the path headed back out onto the sea wall, thought this time it was more rural and actually really scenic. At the location of the old Elmley Ferry (which doesn’t run anymore), there are two boat hull wrecks that are very different to anything else I had seen. It turns out these were WWII wooden minesweepers, specifically wooden so that they did not trigger the mines. They were strangely beautiful, though I do not know how they ended up being here.
At Conyer Creek the path heads inland and down to Conyer. Conyer was actually a really nice little village, with a surprisingly interesting variety of building styles. I only had about 10km to go, but was getting very hungry. Just at that moment I passed the Ship Inn in Conyer, and it was just what I needed. I ordered nuts and a coke, just to give me an energy boost to get me through to the end of the day.
The last section of walk along the sea wall, was quite similar and passed the old ferry house that used to run across to the Ferry House Inn where I had stayed last night. In fact after walking 22 miles, I was only about 1 mile from where I had started.
I arrived in Oare, and knew from yesterday evening that I could pitch in the beer garden of The Three Mariners. It is great to know exactly where I am going to pitch as it saves a lot of time. But I did not realise how kind the pub was being (as had not checked emails), as they were offering me a free dinner and drinks as well. The food was lovely, the staff were great and all the locals seemed interested in the walk.
A successful, enjoyable day, with no major issues. But my right ankle had tightened up over the weekend, and was a bit painful whilst walking. I am not to concerned but will just have to make sure I stretch it well both before and after walking.